Big Brother and the Workplace

Amazon has been fined £27m in France for “excessive” surveillance of its workers. 

While surveillance and monitoring of your staff provide benefits such as increased productivity, security and the provision of data, you should be aware of certain factors and establish appropriate measures before implementing any staff monitoring systems.

Legal and ethical considerations

Ensure you are familiar with the legal and regulatory framework before doing anything. Clearly communicate your monitoring policies to your staff members. Secure their consents were necessary.  

Define your objectives

Establish clear objectives for monitoring your staff members. These might include enhancing productivity, ensuring compliance or protecting sensitive information. Defining the purpose will help guide the implementation process, explain to staff members why the monitoring is necessary and ensure that monitoring practices align with your objectives.

Transparency and trust

In every contract of employment, there is an implied term of mutual trust and confidence. Covert monitoring of staff members is likely to be a breach, by the employer, of trust and confidence and, indeed, a breach of contract. 

The introduction of surveillance systems is likely to send a message to your employees that you lack trust in them, which may damage your employer-employee relationship. 

Unsurprisingly, the idea of being constantly monitored is likely to be demoralising for employees and could cause stress and anxiety for some staff members, which, in turn, may result in reduced productivity levels.

Transparency is, therefore, vital in maintaining trust between you and your staff. 

You should clearly communicate:

  • the purpose of the monitoring 
  • the scope of the monitoring 
  • what the data will be used for, and 
  • who will have access to the data 

This communication is essential to ensure your staff understand why monitoring is being implemented. Clear policies and open communication will allow your employees to raise any concerns or make suggestions that can be addressed before any monitoring systems are implemented. This transparency will help alleviate concerns across the workforce and will assist in maintaining mutual trust.

Appropriate methods

Various monitoring methods are available, such as computer monitoring, video surveillance and GPS tracking. You should carefully consider the different techniques and select a way that aligns with your objectives while considering the potential impact on staff members.  How can you achieve your objectives using the least invasive method? 


Workforce monitoring can be a valuable tool but requires careful consideration and implementation. It is crucial to balance monitoring and respecting your employees’ rights. 

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